Clean Driving Record Checklist: 5 Tips To Clear Your Slate

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Maintaining a clean driving record helps prevent post-accident car repairs, lowers your insurance costs and may qualify you for a safe driver discount. That’s why any infractions should be avoided or attempted to be removed from your record whenever possible, as they can lead to fines, higher premiums and a suspended driver’s license.

Keep reading to learn more about why it pays to drive safely and tips for removing points on your driving record.

Key Takeaways

  • Most states use a point system that marks your driving record based on the severity and frequency of traffic violations you commit, potentially affecting your insurance premiums and leading to a license suspension.
  • Your driving record will generally only show moving traffic offenses and may not include non-moving violations.
  • Depending on your state and insurer, keeping your record clean may qualify you for a good driver discount that can reduce your premiums considerably.
  • High-risk drivers often pay about 25% more for their insurance than low-risk drivers.

What Is a Clean Driving Record?

A clean driving record means you haven’t had any recent traffic infractions, accidents, moving violations and related criminal convictions added to your motor vehicle report (MVR), which details your driving history and personal information. Most states follow a point system that catalogs different infractions by severity according to each state, punishing drivers with penalties after they’ve accumulated enough points, such as license suspension. Over time, these points can fall off your driving record.

Your driving record will usually only show traffic-related moving offenses and will not include non-moving violations. For example, if you crashed into another car or received a speeding ticket, it would appear on your driving record but a parking ticket generally won’t (but this might change based on your state).[1]

What Are the Benefits of Having a Clean Driving Record?

Maintaining a clean driving record often comes with benefits from your insurer, as they look to reward drivers who are less likely to file a claim. Read below for a list of ways it pays to drive safely and avoid adding incidents to your motor vehicle report.

Good Driver Discount

A good driver discount is generally offered to drivers who keep their record clean for three to five years, depending on your insurer. The savings from a good driver discount can be considerable and some states even require car insurance companies to apply it. For example, in California, the premium for a driver who qualifies as a good driver must be at least 20% cheaper than the premium for one who does not qualify.[2]

Qualify To Buy Accident Forgiveness Benefit

Some auto insurance companies offer an accident forgiveness benefit as a reward for drivers who renew their policy with them and maintain a clean driving record. Typically, your premium goes up after an at-fault accident, but with accident forgiveness, the penalties for your first violation are typically waived. While the best way to keep your record clean is to avoid having any accidents at all, the peace of mind an accidental forgiveness benefit can offer is usually well worth it.

Lower Insurance Premiums

Aside from traditional discounts for keeping your driving record clean, avoiding traffic violations can help keep your premiums down. Any traffic ticket or moving violation can increase your insurance rates — your full coverage rate can increase 47% on average after getting into an accident in which you are the at-fault driver.[3] This increase is called a premium surcharge, and insurers calculate it by considering several factors:

  • Severity of the most recent traffic offense
  • Number of offenses on your record
  • Length of time since your last offense
  • Location of the violation (e.g., school zone, construction site)

Avoid Accident-Related and Ticket-Related Expenses

If you get into a car accident and your car is damaged, then you will have to face the cost of repairing your car. If you do not have collision insurance, then this cost will be entirely out of pocket. However, even if you do have this coverage, your premium might still increase when you renew your policy because filing a claim can increase your rate, especially if you were the at-fault driver.

In addition, getting a ticket can cost you time and money. Not only is there a fine that you typically have to pay but you may also have to appear in court — that means gas you have to use and even lost wages if you need to take the day off.

Avoid the High-Risk Driver Label

Your car insurance premiums and rates are affected by your level of risk, and one or more infractions on your driving record may cause insurers to qualify you as a high-risk driver. High-risk drivers often pay about 25% more for their insurance than low-risk drivers.[4] In addition, being a high-risk driver may result in your carrier refusing to renew your policy and making it difficult to find coverage from another carrier, sometimes forcing you to pay for more expensive non-standard insurance.

Committing a major moving violation like driving under the influence may also subject you to SR-22 filing requirements. In some states, meeting this requirement will require you to buy liability coverage that is higher than the normal limits, meaning that you are paying extra for additional coverage, as well as paying a surcharge for your high-risk status.

Keep Your License

If you commit a major moving violation or accumulate too many points within a certain period, your driver’s license can get suspended. For example, in California, receiving four speeding tickets in a 12-month period would result in a license suspension.[5][6]

In most cases, you will need to accumulate multiple violations to have your license suspended, but if you’re a young driver under 18, it may only take one.[7]

How Do I Remove Points and Clean My Driving Record?

Below, we’ve compiled a few ways to clear your driving record such as completing a defensive driving course or simply waiting for points to fall off naturally over time. However, drivers should note that severe violations like a driving under the influence (DUI) conviction involving an injury or fatality to another may remain on their permanent driving record.

1. Take a Defensive Driving Course

Many states will allow you to take a state-approved driver’s education course to subtract points from your DMV record. This course will provide tips on defensive driving, including maintaining a safe distance with the car in front of you and scanning the road ahead. Taking this driver safety course may also qualify you for a defensive driver discount with your insurer.

2. Wait for Your Points To Drop Off

Points typically remain on your record for a few years, but the exact length varies based on state laws and the type of infraction. For example, it would take up to three years for a speeding ticket to drop off in Texas, whereas if you lived in Kansas, you’d have to wait for five years for a major offense.[8][9] However, severe violations, like a conviction for driving under the influence in Washington, can remain on your record permanently.[10]

Remember that not all states use a point system, so an infraction in one state may carry harsher or longer-term consequences than others. You should contact your local DMV or check your state’s website for more information on how your state handles traffic violations.

3. Avoid Accidents and Obey Traffic Laws

The best long-term strategy for getting and maintaining a clean driving record is to avoid accidents and traffic violations altogether. Do your best to obey traffic laws, drive defensively and remain calm and alert. Otherwise, additional points against your record will extend the timeline for achieving a clean driving record.

4. Fight the Ticket

You can contest your ticket to avoid points being added to your driving record. For example, if you were given a speeding ticket but have reasons to dispute the charge, you may be able to revoke the ticket by appearing in court and arguing your case. Depending on the severity of the violation, you may want to consult a traffic ticket lawyer.

5. Request a Deferment

Drivers who just received their tickets can potentially ask the court for a deferment. They must pay a fee and stay ticket-free within the deferment period if granted. The ticket may be dismissed if the driver maintains a clean driving record during that period.

Will My Insurance Rates Be Affected if I Clean My Driving Record?

If you’re able to clean up your driving record, you should see your post-accident rate return closer to your pre-crash rate. Keep in mind that other factors can affect your rate, including your zip code, whether you buy add-ons, inflation and in some states, your credit score. Below is a table of what rates can look like before and after your first at-fault crash.[11]


Average Annual Rate for Full Coverage Before At-Fault Crash

Rate After an At-Fault Crash







American Family















State Farm









How Do I Check if I Have a Clean Driving Record?

You can go to your state’s DMV and request your motor vehicle report to check for any points on your record. Keep in mind that you may need to pay a fee. If you’ve recently gotten a moving violation, been in an accident or started paying a higher car insurance rate, you should check your MVR for accuracy and see how long these offenses will be visible.

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Can you clear a ticket off of your driving record?

It may be possible to clear a ticket from your driving record by fighting it, waiting for it to expire or requesting for it to be deferred. If it’s deferred and you maintain a clean driving record up to the deferment date, the ticket is typically dismissed.

Do employers require clean driving records?

Your driving record may affect employment opportunities if the position requires driving, such as transporting inventory or traveling to client locations. If your driving record has multiple blemishes, they may pass on your application because high-risk drivers can increase their commercial auto policy rates and may imply a habit of disregarding serious consequences.

What could happen if my driving record isn’t clean?

If your driving record isn’t clean, you risk increasing your insurance rates, losing access to good driving-related discounts or other benefits and your license being suspended.

Are insurance rates higher for people without a clean driving record?

Yes. Assuming all other underwriting factors are equal, a driver with a history of moving violations and accidents will pay a higher car insurance premium than a driver with a clean driving record.


  1. Driving Laws by Nolo. “What Is a Nonmoving Traffic Violation? Do They Go On Your Driving Record?” Accessed July 3, 2024.
  2. California Department of Insurance. “Introduction to Auto Insurance.” Accessed July 3, 2024.
  3. NerdWallet. “How Much Does Insurance Increase After an Accident?.” Accessed July 3, 2024.
  4. The General. “What Is High-Risk Car Insurance?” Accessed July 3, 2024.
  5. California Department of Motor Vehicles. “Driver Negligence.” Accessed July 3, 2024.
  6. McElfresh Law. “California Driver's License Points.” Accessed July 3, 2024.
  7. Justia. “Driver's License Suspensions Based on Traffic Tickets.” Accessed July 3, 2024.
  8. Texas Court Records. “How To Pay Traffic Tickets in Texas.” Accessed July 3, 2024.
  9. Kansas Department of Revenue. “Frequently Asked Questions.” Accessed July 3, 2024.
  10. Lewis and Laws. “Do DUIs in Washington Go Away?.” Accessed July 3, 2024.
  11. Bankrate. “How Much Will My Car Insurance Go Up After an Accident?” Accessed July 3, 2024.

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